5 Dietary Choices that Helped me Manage my Chronic Pain

Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) isn’t something I would wish on anyone but since I always believe in finding the silver lining in whatever cards you’re dealt, once I accepted my diagnosis I tried to find positives in it. One of which was rejigging the way I looked at and consumed food. How could I become healthier and help my body manage this disease? What changes could I make to try and mitigate flare-ups?

Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve finally (for the most part) found a lifestyle and way of eating that seems to work for me. Now do I believe RA can be cured through green juice? Absolutely not. But I do think there are things you can do when living with chronic pain to help make things easier on yourself.

Keep in mind, I am by no means an expert or doctor; these are just a few of things that are working for me!

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1.     My Big Fat Greek Diet

Aside from my love of feta, a Mediterranean diet tends to be my go-to to try and keep my flares at bay. Loads of fruits, veggies, grains (gluten-free for me), fats, legumes, and fish are what I try to stick to. Between RA and celiac I am already required to watch what I eat but that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge on occasion. French fries and ice cream will always be my weakness, I’m just more aware of the affect they can have on my body.

2.     Spice up your life

When I say I’m no master chef, that’s not me being coy, it’s a cold hard fact. For a long time, the spices in my life were strictly salt and pepper; and maybe garlic salt if I was feeling really adventurous. But in the last few years I have tried to play around more and more with various herbs and spices, especially turmeric. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory powers and has been for centuries. Regardless of the fact turmeric lattes have now become trendy, incorporating it, along with ginger, into lattes, teas, and everyday meals can help to reduce inflammation over time.

3.     You booze, you lose.

This was not part of the silver lining but unfortunately it’s my reality. Alcohol, in my case, increases inflammation and if I feel a flare-up coming on, I avoid it completely. On days when my body is feeling fine and I’m going out to dinner or a bar I limit myself to two drinks max, otherwise I’m almost guaranteed to be in pain the next day.

4.     Bone broth bandwagon

Everything old becomes new again and, like turmeric, bone broth is also having a moment. I’ll be the first to admit, how I feel after my cuppa could be placebo but hey it works. I try and have at least one cup a day and notice that if anything, it makes a considerable difference in how my stomach is feeling.  That said, it also contains magnesium, phosphorus, and glucosamine, which are found in a lot of the supplements people with arthritis are encouraged to take. If drinking a cup of broth can cut down on my pharmaceutical cocktail, I’m in.  

5.     Gluten Freedom

Having celiac obviously means gluten is off the table for me, however those with arthritis are often encouraged to limit their gluten consumption to help with inflammation. My diagnoses came on practically the same day, so I don’t know if gluten would have affected my flares, but I’d be curious to know if anyone else has cut it out or reduced the amount they ate and noticed a difference.

RA and any chronic pain sucks, there’s no other way to put it, but if there are small lifestyle changes I can make to reduce the pain that comes with flare-ups and help manage my illness I will. Keeping in mind that I still want to enjoy life and overly restricting myself isn’t healthy either. Like with everything it’s all about balance.